United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L.ELLIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Police Officers Richard Barber, J.C. Roman, and R. Chapa
arrested and detained Plaintiff Pablo Garcia while he sat in
a parked car, charging Garcia with driving under the
influence (“DUI”). After a judge dismissed the
charges against him, Garcia filed this civil rights suit
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Barber, Roman,
Chapa, John Galvin, Sergeant Thomas Hamilton, unknown Chicago
Police officers, and the City of Chicago
(“City”). In addition to his claims against the
individual Defendants, Garcia brings a Monell claim
against the City based on its policies or practices of (1)
interfering with individuals siting in parked cars without
reasonable suspicion or probable cause, and (2) failing to
discipline, supervise, and control its police
officers. The City moves to dismiss Garcia's
Monell claim, arguing that he has failed to plead
more than conclusory allegations of a policy or practice. The
Court finds that Garcia has sufficiently met his pleading
burden with respect to his claim that the City maintains a
practice of arresting and charging anyone sitting in a parked
car for any period of time, in addition to failing to
discipline its police officers, based on his own experience
and so allows those parts of his Monell claim to
proceed to discovery. But the Court agrees that Garcia has
not sufficiently alleged a Monell claim with respect
to the City's alleged policy of failing to supervise and
control its officers and so dismisses these aspects of his
On February 22, 2017, shortly before midnight, Garcia was
sitting in his parked car without the keys in the ignition
near 5450 S. Spaulding Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Barber
approached Garcia's vehicle and attempted to gain entry
into it. He requested back up from a Spanish-speaking
officer. Soon after, Roman and Chapa arrived on the scene.
Together, Barber, Roman, and Chapa forcibly removed Garcia
from his car and walked him to a parking lot a block away. In
the lot, they administered a breathalyzer test to Garcia but
did not show or tell him the results. Barber, Roman, and
Chapa then arrested Garcia and drove him to the police
station. On February 23, 2017, the State charged Garcia with
a DUI and Garcia remained incarcerated at the Cook County
Jail for twelve days. Barber, assisted by Galvin, who worked
at the Chicago Police Department, and with Hamilton's
approval, impounded Garcia's vehicle. On March 28, 2017,
Judge James Brown found that Barber did not have probable
cause to arrest Garcia, leading the State's Attorney to
dismiss the DUI charge and decline to prosecute the remaining
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the
sufficiency of the complaint, not its merits. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6); Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510,
1520 (7th Cir. 1990). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well- pleaded facts
in the plaintiff's complaint and draws all reasonable
inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor.
AnchorBank, FSB v. Hofer, 649 F.3d 610, 614 (7th Cir.
2011). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must
not only provide the defendant with fair notice of a
claim's basis but must also be facially plausible.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d
929 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
City argues that Garcia has not adequately alleged a policy
or practice claim under Monell v. Department of Social
Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct.
2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). A plaintiff may allege
Monell liability on (1) an express policy that, when
enforced, causes a constitutional violation; (2) a widespread
practice that, although not authorized by written law or
express municipal policy, is so permanent and well-settled as
to constitute a custom or usage with the force of law; or (3)
a constitutional injury caused by a person with final
policymaking authority. McCormick v. City of
Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 324 (7th Cir. 2000). The policy
or practice “must be the direct cause or moving force
behind the constitutional violation.” Woodward v.
Corr. Med. Servs. of Ill., Inc., 368 F.3d 917, 927 (7th
Cir. 2004) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Here, Garcia brings his Monell claims
under the second prong. To adequately allege a
Monell widespread practice claim, Garcia must
“plead[ ] factual content that allows the Court to draw
the reasonable inference that the [City] maintained a policy,
custom or practice” that contributed to the alleged
violation. McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d
611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Because Garcia seeks to hold the City liable for two distinct
practices, the Court addresses them in turn.
Interference with Individuals Sitting in Parked Cars
Garcia claims that his arrest arose pursuant to a City policy
or practice of arresting anyone sitting in a parked car for
any period of time. The City argues that Garcia uses only
boilerplate language and merely relies on his own experience
of a single arrest, which cannot establish a widespread
practice. But recently, the Seventh Circuit has reminded
courts not to apply a “heightened pleading
standard” to Monell claims. White v. City
of Chicago, 829 F.3d 837, 844 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence &
Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164, 113 S.Ct. 1160,
122 L.Ed.2d 517 (1993)). This means that a plaintiff need not
identify other examples of the complained of practice in
order to state a Monell claim but rather may rely
solely on his own experience. See Id. at 844 (noting
that plaintiff “was not required to identify every
other or even one other individual who had been arrested
pursuant to a warrant obtained through the complained-of
process”); Williams v. City of Chicago, No.
16-cv-8271, 2017 WL 3169065, at *8-9 (N.D. Ill. July 26,
2017) (“Post-White courts analyzing Monell
claims . . . have ‘scotched motions to dismiss'
premised on arguments that the complaint does not contain
allegations beyond those relating to the plaintiff.”
(collecting cases)). Here, Garcia alleges that Barber, Roman,
and Chapa unlawfully arrested him without probable cause
pursuant to the City's practice of arresting anyone
sitting in a parked car for any period of time. This suffices
at the pleading stage to state a Monell claim.
See Barwicks v. Dart, No. 14-cv-8791, 2016 WL
3418570, at *4 (N.D. Ill. June 22, 2016) (at summary
judgment, a single incident cannot establish a
Monell claim, but at the motion to dismiss stage, a
plaintiff “need only allege a pattern or practice, not
put forth the full panoply of evidence from which a
reasonable factfinder could conclude such a pattern
exists”). Discovery will uncover whether Garcia can
establish or prove that such a practice exists, but at the
pleading stage, Garcia need only state a plausible claim for
relief. See Shields v. City of Chicago, No. 17 C
6689, 2018 WL 1138553, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 2, 2018) (noting
that the “City's arguments that Plaintiff's
allegations do not ‘establish' the existence of a
widespread policy are misplaced because at this stage of the
proceedings, the Court must determine whether Plaintiff has
stated a plausible claim for relief, not that he has
‘established' or ‘proven' his
claims”). The Court finds that Garcia has done so with
respect to this aspect of his Monell claim and so
allows it to proceed.
Failure to Discipline, Supervise, and Control
Garcia contends that the City has a practice of failing to
discipline, supervise, and control its police officers. He
only provides some factual support for one aspect of this
policy, contending that, on information and belief, Barber,
Roman, and Chapa have not yet been disciplined for violating
certain policies in connection with their arrest of Garcia.
This allegation could plausibly be read to suggest a more
pervasive failure to discipline within the Chicago Police
Department, encouraging these officers to continue violating
the Chicago Police Department's policies with respect to
DUI arrests and thus causing Garcia's injuries.
Therefore, the Court will allow the failure to discipline
claim to proceed. But see Carmona v. City of Chicago
(“Carmona II”), No. 15-CV-462, 2018 WL
1468995, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 26, 2018) (requiring plaintiff
to plead more than how alleged failure to discipline affected
his particular case to state a Monell claim).
of this allegation, however, Garcia has not provided any
facts to support his claim that the City maintains a policy
or practice of failing to supervise or control its officers
and that such a policy or practice caused his injuries.
See Harris v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., No.
15-cv-10936, 2017 WL 4467480, at *3-4 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 6,
2017) (dismissing Monell claim against Wexford
Health Sources where complaint did not adequately provide
facts to support how plaintiff's injuries were caused by
Wexford's alleged policies or practices). Instead, Garcia
only conclusorily alleges that the City's failure to
supervise and control police officers generally results in
misconduct. Courts have found that such allegations do not
suffice. See Carmona v. City of Chicago
(“Carmona I”), No. 15-CV-462, 2018 WL
306664, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 5, 2018) (collecting cases).
response, Garcia asks the Court to consider the Department of
Justice's January 2017 report on the Chicago Police
Department (“DOJ report”), arguing that the DOJ
report provides additional support for his claim that the
City maintains “a widespread custom and practice of
inadequate training, supervision, discipline, and
accountability.” Doc. 46 at 6. But the DOJ report does
not help Garcia. Although the DOJ report generally addresses
the Chicago Police Department's failure to adequately
regulate the use of force, Garcia has not brought an
excessive force claim, and his broad citations to the
DOJ's findings of accountability problems do not help
show “how the deficiencies described in the DOJ report
relate to [Garcia's] claim that police officers . . .
arrested him without probable cause.” Carmona
I, 2018 WL 306664, at *3 (“Plaintiff's broad
citation to the 160-page DOJ report, without any discussion
of the specific findings of the report or any allegations
connecting the report findings to the misconduct alleged in
his Complaint, is insufficient to support his Monell
claim.”); see also Carmona II, 2018 WL
1468995, at *4 (“The DOJ report certainly identifies
serious shortcomings in CPD's supervisory systems, but
the Court cannot countenance it as a master key to unlock
discovery's door for any Monell claim against
the City, no matter how scantily the plaintiff connects his
claim to the report's findings.”); cf.
Arrington v. City of Chicago, No. 17 ...